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We absolutely can reduce the ecological footprint of humanity all the way down to zero!
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9. Richard Alley - Perspectives on Limits to Growth: World on the Edge

"My (I hope well educated) opinion: We can get to a sustainable world of 10 billion smiling people.... if we really want to."

 

"We can double our energy, and we can do it in a sustainable way."

 

We rely heavily on energy use, dominated by finite fossil fuels. We have high scientific confidence, based on solid physics, that burning most of the remaining fossil-fuel resource and releasing the carbon dioxide will cause large and long-lasting climate changes. Studies of societal and economic impacts typically indicate that such large climate changes will make life notably more difficult for future generations, and a measured response starting soon is economically favorable. Uncertainties are substantial, but with larger or faster climate changes more likely than smaller or slower ones. Fortunately, sustainable energy resources are abundant, and extensive use can be achieved with existing technologies or logical extensions thereof, allowing the economically optimal shift away from fossil fuels.


 

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

Richard Alley focuses mostly on making it clear that we are in serious trouble if we continue on our current path, due to climate change caused by our carbon dioxide emissions, but he is largely optimistic about how we can technically and economically solve these problems in a few decades.

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Roadmap for 100% renewables: How the Greens would get there : Renew Economy

Greens plan to fast-track Australia to 100% renewables – 90% by 2030 – would boost the RET, beef up the CEFC and redesign the grid.

 

We are in a global warming emergency. If we are a society that cares about leaving a safe climate for our children, and if Australia is to contribute fairly to the challenge of limiting global warming to two degrees, emissions from the electricity sector must ultimately fall to zero. Nuclear energy is too dangerous and too slow to build and carbon capture and storage is not ready and very unlikely to ever prove cost-competitive. A 100% reliance on renewable energy is therefore necessary and inevitable, it is just a question of when.

 

A goal of 100% renewable energy is achievable. The argument that renewable energy is ‘intermittent’ and therefore unreliable has always been a gross over-simplification peddled by those with a vested interest in slowing investment in renewable energy. Some types of renewable energy have variable output, such as solar PV and wind, but many others such as hydro, geothermal, biomass and solar thermal with storage can be dispatched reliably.

 

It will be much cheaper to anticipate a 100% renewable future and build appropriately sized grid infrastructure to support it, than to continue with incremental additions to generation and grid capacity. For example, some of the scenarios in the AEMO 100% renewable energy study project significant geothermal generation in the Cooper Basin. It would be an expensive mistake to build a low capacity transmission line to any new renewable energy zone if ultimately a high capacity line proved desirable to exploit the full potential.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

We do need to plan on achieving 100% renewable energy.  Necessary and inevitable, indeed!

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100% Renewable Energy And Beyond!

100% Renewable Energy And Beyond! | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

While many countries still discuss whether or not a 100% renewable energy system – or “just” a 100% renewable electricity supply – is even theoretically possible, Germans seem no longer bothered by such unscientific doubts. To make matters “worse,” some of them (including myself) are even convinced that a transition to a 100% renewable energy system can and should be accomplished within only a few decades’ time.

 

[...]

The list of 100–200% renewable counties is longer, and the still rather long list of counties below 10% will get shorter in the coming years.

 

Here’s what we know: The advances of renewable energy technology and the growing understanding among local governments/business leaders creates a very fertile basis for a new wave of rapid renewable energy growth.

 

[...]

Many regions across Germany have already declared their own 100% renewable electricity and even 100% renewable energy ambitions. They organize, hold conferences, and share their experiences in order to develop their individual road maps. Additionally, more and more regional utilities, and even some of the “former” nuclear and coal giants, have begun to transform their business models from primitive energy providers to modern managers of energy flows.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

We all need to be thinking "big picture" and long term and making plans further into the future.

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Seattle Adopts Bold Climate Action Plan, Aims To Be Carbon Neutral By 2050

Seattle Adopts Bold Climate Action Plan, Aims To Be Carbon Neutral By 2050 | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it
The Seattle City Council unanimously passed a far-reaching Climate Action Plan Monday, with the ultimate goal of reaching zero net emissions by 2050.

 

The ambitious plan, crafted by city officials and community members, provides a long-term vision for reducing the city’s greenhouse gas emissions while building vibrant, prosperous communities.

 

Specifically, the plan focuses on three areas where Seattle can benefit the most from improvements: transportation and land use, building energy and solid waste.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

2050?  Better than nothing, but not bold enough, not aggressive enough, not soon enough.  Should be considered a low bar and expect to do better.

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Renewable Energy Investments Shift to Developing Nations

Renewable Energy Investments Shift to Developing Nations | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it
Renewable energy investments are shifting to developing nations as countries from Morocco to Chile pursue power sources that wean them off fossil fuel imports, two studies promoted by the United Nations said.

 

The gap on renewables spending between richer and developing countries shrank to 18 percent last year from 250 percent in 2007, marking a “dramatic change” in investment patterns, the statement said. Two-thirds of the 138 nations that now have clean-energy targets are in the developing world.


“The uptake of renewable energies continues worldwide as countries, companies and communities seize the linkages between low-carbon green economies and a future of energy access and security,” UN Environment Program Executive Director Achim Steiner said in the statement. “More and more countries are set to take the renewable energy stage,” he said, citing “the logic and the rationale of embracing a green development path.”


Total global investment in renewables fell to $244 billion in 2012 from $279 billion in 2011, due in part to a drop in the cost of solar and wind technologies, according to the reports. Solar photovoltaic installations rose to a record 30.5 gigawatts. Wind also hit a new annual record, with 48.4 gigawatts put in place.


“It is encouraging that renewable energy investment has exceeded $200 billion for the third successive year, that emerging economies are playing a larger and larger part, and that the cost-competitiveness of solar and wind power is improving all the time,” said New Energy Finance Chief Executive Officer Michael Liebreich. “What remains daunting is that the world has hardly scratched the surface. CO2 emissions are still on a firm upward  trend and there was still nearly $150 billion of net investment in new fossil-fuel generating assets in 2012.”


(More complete quotes at http://treealerts.org/home-global/2013/06/report-renewables-keep-growing-but-are-held-back-by-uncertain-policies/ ;)

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

It is very important that developing countries NOT follow in our footsteps that led to the dominance of fossil fuels.  And the numbers we should really focus on are not the amount of money invested but the total use of fossil fuels which lead directly to CO2 emissions.

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Cool Planet Nears Commercial Production of Carbon Negative Biofuel

Cool Planet Nears Commercial Production of Carbon Negative Biofuel | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it
California based Cool Planet Energy has just announced almost $30 million in funding toward a goal of $100 million to build its first commercial facility for producing low cost biofuel that is not just carbon neutral, it's carbon negative.

 

Yes, that’s what Cool Planet has promised: it will produce bio-gasoline at a cost of under $1.50 per gallon without government subsidy, along with a biochar coproduct that will increase crop yields while capturing carbon from the atmosphere.

 

One interesting aspect of Cool Planet’s strategy is its focus on commercializing modular, transportable micro-biorefineries which can be located at or near biofuel croplands, which should help reduce carbon emissions related to feedstock transportation. 

 

Cool Planet has its sights set higher, into carbon-negative territory.  The key to that goal is the production of biochar during Cool Planet’s refining process. Biochar refers to black carbon produced from biomass (or fossil fuels, too). When burned as fuel it adds carbon back to the atmosphere, but when used as a soil enhancer it captures carbon. As an extra bonus it renders marginal soil more fertile and improves its ability to absorb water, which could mean that biochar would enable more previously non-arable land to be put into production for biofuel crops.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

This is a win-win for consumers and nature, everyone wins except for the oil industry, unless they jump in to operate it and stop pumping oil wells.

 

The addition of biochar to improve soil should allow us to reclaim desertifying lands as well, getting more land back in active production of CO2 capturing plants.  It should NOT be used to compete with food production.

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The Carbon Negative Revolution: Jason Aramburu at TEDxMission

As the world's population skyrockets, reduction of CO2 emissions becomes vital for human survival. However, inconvenient lifestyle changes (conservation, energy efficiency etc) have proven difficult or impossible to implement. How can we leverage technologies, both ancient and new, to make our lives better and fight climate change? Jason Aramburu is a cleantech entrepreneur and researcher currently working with Biochar as a means of developing innovative and low-cost solutions to these challenges.

 

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

Wish he hadn't started the description with "As the world's population skyrockets" because population growth is actually declining, and is projected to reach 0 in a few decades.  Moreover, it is the poorest half of the population that is still growing even while they are having fewer children, but they are only responsible for 7% of the carbon footprint. We do need to help them develop while avoiding adding to the mess we have created.

 

One more important thing about population: Once we reach the goal of a per capita carbon footprint that is negative, and we will get there, the sooner the better, then it won't matter how many people we have, and in fact, more people would make the total footprint all the more negative, and we will be able to clean up the mess that much faster.

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Cradle2Cradle | Reggs

From: http://www.c2ccertified.org/about/what_is_cradle_to_cradle


Co-founder Dr. Michael Braungart points out that mankind strives to make a positive impact both economically and socially, but when it comes to the environment, we strive for “zero.” Zero is not a terribly inspiring goal, which may explain why collectively we don’t seem to be in a hurry to get there.

 

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

Good intro to the concept.  But I think it is misleading to suggest that population growth is the problem, even though it also points out that the real problem is non-sustainable industrial practices that are competing to satisfy the demands for products by the population.  Blaming the population for what is done on our behalf is the wrong way of looking at it.

 

I also agree that "zero" is not enough, but not as a marketing spin on the same solution.  Zero Footprint is the goal professed here, but we need to go further, to achieve a negative footprint and a positive impact, to repair the centuries of environmental damage that has accumlated.

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Mind Your Metaphors: Words Have Power

Mind Your Metaphors: Words Have Power | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it
The problem is, if we conceive of our challenge as squeezing within the limits of a finite planet, our imaginations stay locked inside an unecological worldview of separateness and lack -- precisely the thinking that got us into this mess.

 

It's true, of course, that for all practical purposes our planet and atmosphere are made up of a limited number of atoms. But their configurations are essentially infinite. By conjuring up a fixed and static reality, the "finite-limits frame" draws us away from the deeper reality of our world -- that of interconnection and dynamism offering stunning possibility, if we learn to align with nature's rules.

 

Think of music.  Yes, there are just eighty-eight keys on the piano. But if we instruct ourselves to focus primarily on this limit, we won't get very far in creating beautiful sound. It is the possible variations we play on these eighty-eight keys that are important. And they are virtually endless.

 

A further drawback of the "hitting the limits" frame is that for the most part finitude does not explain much of today's suffering. True, there is a finite amount of forests we can destroy or water we can pollute without killing ourselves and other species, along with finite land area, finite rare minerals, and on and on.

 

But let's not be confused. Even as 868 million people suffer long-term, extreme undernourishment -- and many more experience food insecurity -- the supply of food is not only sufficient for all but continues to increase: now at about 2,800 calories for each of us each day. Plus, ecological farming could increase production, and it stores more carbon than chemical farming. And energy? We've barely begun to tap renewable sources.

 

So, today's deprivation in food and energy is not the result of the earth's "limits." The root lies in rules concentrating wealth and power: Income of less than two percent of the world's people is as great as that of the bottom 77 percent.

 

From "Limits" to Alignment with Nature

Through an ecological lens, however, we can move toward defining the problem as mal-alignment with nature. So we stop calling ours a "growth economy" and start naming it the "waste and destruction" economy. From there, we can get focused on remaking the ground rules of our economies to align with nature's generative power.

 

We can tap the commonly understood truth that it's a whole lot easier to swim (or float!) with the current than fight against it. This is alignment. Moving with nature's flow of energy is suggested in metaphors like "cradle to cradle" and "zero-waste" and "biomimicry" in design, for example. Nature is no longer a threat, nor a too-skimpy source of stuff. Nature is a wondrous teacher.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

'So we stop calling ours a "growth economy" and start naming it the "waste and destruction" economy.' Very well said.

 

I have been arguing a similar point, that "growth" doesn't just mean increased consumption of non-renewable resources. It also can mean growing smarter and wiser; it means growing more efficient by using fewer resources more effectively. We do value these things, but just not enough to factor them into our measure of economic activity. We actually have infinite growth potential in these directions, because there is no end of how much we can learn about the world, how much we can creatively innovate better ways of aligning and integrating our civilization with nature.

 

And meanwhile, finite non-renewable resources need to be valued much more for NOT using them, or at least not wasting them.

 

Zero Footprint doesn't mean no growth.  It means truly sustainable growth. 

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Toward a generative economy

Toward a generative economy | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

What kind of economy is consistent with living inside a living being? This question is being answered in experiments across the globe, from community forests in Mexico to "industrial symbiosis" in Denmark.


You don’t start with the corporation and ask how to redesign it. You start with life, with human life and the life of the planet, and ask, how do we generate the conditions for life’s flourishing?


“A thing is right when it enhances the stability and beauty of the total ecosystem. It is wrong when it damages it.”[i] The sustainability of the larger system comes first. Everything else must fit itself within that frame.


In the short run, profit-maximizing companies can help in a rapid transition to a greener economy. But that transition might represent a brief moment in time. If civilization and planetary ecosystems are still functioning well 50 years from now (not a small if), what about the next 50 years? And the next 100 or 1,000 years beyond that? What kind of economy will be suited for ongoing life inside the living earth? Will it be an economy dominated by massive corporations intent on earnings growth? That doesn’t seem likely. In the long view, the question turns itself about: Can we sustain a low-growth or no-growth economy indefinitely without changing dominant ownership designs? 

 

That seems unlikely. Probably impossible. How do we make the turn? What are the alternatives to extractive design, that seeking of endless extraction of financial wealth? Can we design economic architectures that are self-organized around serving the needs of life?

 


Via Flora Moon
Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

It is possible to have a sustainable growing economy without being exploitive and without extracting more and more non-renewable resources.  Competition and profits and large corporations are not incompatible with sustainability, but we have to impose rules such that ALL costs are paid with zero externalities.  It is an illusion to think that economic growth requires exploitation of resources and people. The economy could still grow as we increase the efficiency of everything we do, and increase our knowledge about the world and learn how to more effectively integrate our maturing society with the life of the world.  As we shift our values to what is truly of long-term value, monetary profits may not matter as much, and mutual benefits matter more.

 

And we do have thousands of times more renewable energy available to us than all the energy we currently use, enough to clean up our huge mess and keep on cleaning up everything else we do.  

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Daniel LaLiberte's comment, June 4, 2013 1:37 PM
Related comment posted elsewhere: Economic growth that doesn't depend on increasing consumption of resources is possible. Instead of using more resources, it would use the same resources more efficiently, with 100% recycling of all resources powered by 100% renewable energy. Absolutely possible and necessary.
Daniel LaLiberte's comment, June 4, 2013 1:40 PM
And a response to someone who didn't understand:

Yes, the economy is integral to our relationship with nature. I never said we would use no energy; rather I said we should use 100% renewable energy, and there is thousands of times more renewable energy available to us than all the energy we currently use. That will fuel the extra effort to recycle 100% of our material resources. We can create structures above and below ground level that increase the effective arable land for growing our food, etc. A relatively stable population would make sense, but once we figure out how to *eliminate* our negative effects on nature, we could probably grow the population, if we want.

Yes, I am talking about economic growth that can grow infinitely by growing the stuff of real value, our knowledge of the world, the things we create, improving the quality of life for everyone. Why is that not economically valued? It is a lot of work. It has a relatively small value now, but we have been valuing the wrong stuff.
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Restoring the Earth: The Bonn Challenge

The future of our land, water and climate is under threat but large-scale ecosystem restoration can help reverse this. In 2011, the Bonn Challenge set a ten year target to restore 150 million hectares of deforested and degraded land. This short film describes the many benefits of taking up this vital challenge..WATCH: STORIES OF HOPE ON THE FUTURE OF OUR PLANET.  JOIN THE INTERACTIVE DOCUMENTARY... https://www.youtube.com/user/whatifwechange?utm_content=buffer15c37&utm_source=buffer&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Buffer

 

VISIT THE "WHAT IF WE CHANGE" MAGAZINE http://www.whatifwechange.org/magazine/

 

May 29, 2013 Seed Daily
EVEN FARM ANIMAL DIVERSITY IS DECLINING AS ACCELERATING SPECIES LOSS THREATENS HUMANITY http://www.seeddaily.com/reports/Even_farm_animal_diversity_is_declining_as_accelerating_species_loss_threatens_humanity_999.html

 

 

WHY CHOOSING NATURE WILL ONLY ADVANCE HUMAN SOCIETIES http://sco.lt/8BIJP7

 

LOVELY VIDEO -

AWHAR: RESTORING THE MESOPOTAMIAN MARSHES IN IRAQ - Full Episode http://sco.lt/5T7sNV

 

PHOTOS:  STUNNING IMAGES OF BREATHTAKING BIODIVERSITY IN REMAINING INDONESIAN FORESTS AND MARINE LIFE http://sco.lt/8zbjbl

 

DECLINE IN BIODIVERSITY OF FARMED PLANTS AND ANIMALS GATHERING PACE http://sco.lt/7o99MH

 

FOOD FORESTS CAN MITIGATE RISKS OF 'FEAST OR FAMINE' http://sco.lt/8q2M41

 

HOW BIODIVERSITY COULD SAVE YOUR LIFE http://sco.lt/90Sr2n

 

VIDEO:

Yale Environment 360

INTO THE HEART OF ECUADOR'S YASUNI http://sco.lt/7HwxkH

 

May 24, 2013 Guardian Sustainable Business

CREATING A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE: THE ROLE OF ART AND IMAGINATION TO CREATE CHANGE - A GREAT IDEA

Largely absent from the business world, animal portraits without words or explicit messages around sustainability, were found to effectively change perceptions and communicate the need for change.

Without words or explicit messages about sustainability or conservation, around 90% of viewers changed their cultural perceptions of animals and made statements about the need for more sustainable lifestyles to help protect the animals.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/sustainable-business/gallery/sustainable-future-arts-imagination-gallery#/?picture=409437897&index=1

 

May 25, 2013 Mother Jones
FAREWELL, FROGGY: THE AGE OF RIBBIT IS NEARING AN END  http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2013/05/amphibian-populations-declining-precipitous-rates-us-even-species-thought-stable


Via pdjmoo
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"Everyone has a role to play in building a sustainable future."

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The Future Could Not Be Clearer for Renewable Energy

The Future Could Not Be Clearer for Renewable Energy | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it
Okay, the title is a bit of an overstatement. But when it comes to the economy, we don’t need a crystal ball to understand what is coming next. Rarely in history has there been a time when the greatest opportunity available has also been so obvious.

 

People, groups and societies all wish to maintain and improve their standards of living. Yet the ecological underpinnings of the economy that would allow that to happen are at risk from legacy economic activities that we no longer need in order to maintain that standard of living. Seems like a paradox, but it's true.

 

Our practice of burning fossil fuels, which has turned out to be shockingly destructive, can now, reasonably, be replaced by other technologies in many areas, primarily led by renewables-to-electric ways of powering nearly everything we need. Similarly, our reckless and destructive depletion and methods of depletion of many natural resources can now be slowed dramatically, while not threatening our standard of living, primarily due to use of waste-to-value economics and methods.

 

Renewable energies and sustainable practices can now credibly be said to have the power to increase our standards of living since they provide far greater benefits for far less cost than their economic predecessors. Moreover, since fossil fuels are demonstrably destructive - to the point that their use threatens our society and its ecological underpinnings - arguments that continuing to expand their use somehow minimizes economic risks are nonsense on their face. On the contrary, it’s now clear that failing to reduce use of fossil fuels is among the riskiest things we can do.

 

Ideas that lighten our footprint on global ecologies while simultaneously accelerating the world’s economy are emerging, they’re working, and they have every chance of radically altering our up-till-now recklessly destructive path.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

We are finally moving in the right direction.  The question is will the transltion to 100% renewable energy be fast enough and soon enough to avoid the worst of the coming catastrophies?

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Energy Revolution

Energy Revolution | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it
The Energy [R]evolution offers a sustainable path to quit dirty, dangerous fuels by transitioning to renewable energy and energy efficiency.

 

"The Energy [R]evolution 2012 provides a consistent fundamental pathway for protecting our climate through investment in renewable energy. It's about getting the world from where we are now to where we need to be by phasing out fossil fuels and cutting CO2 emissions while ensuring energy security."

 

"The expert consensus is that this fundamental shift in the way we consume and generate energy must begin immediately and be well underway within the next ten years in order to avert the worst impacts of climate change. The scale of the challenge requires a complete transformation of the way we produce, consume and distribute energy, while maintaining economic growth."

 

Policy change demands:Phase out all subsidies for fossil fuels and nuclear energy.Internalise the external (social and environmental) costs of energy production through ‘cap and trade’ emissions trading.Mandate strict efficiency standards for all energy consuming appliances, buildings and vehicles.Establish legally binding targets for renewable energy and combined heat and power generation.Reform the electricity markets by guaranteeing priority access to the grid for renewable power generators.Provide defined and stable returns for investors, for example by feed-in tariff programmes.Implement better labelling and disclosure mechanisms to provide more environmental product information.Increase research and development budgets for renewable energy and energy efficiency.

 

“will we look into the eyes

of our children and confess
that we had the opportunity,
but lacked the courage?
that we had the technology,
but lacked the vision?”

 

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Global carbon emissions and sinks since 1750

Global carbon emissions and sinks since 1750 | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

Using data for all sources and sinks of human carbon emissions over the last 262 years this post highlights just how hard the oceans, plants and soils are working to slow the growth of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations.


Together ocean and plants sinks have absorbed 56% of human carbon emissions since 1750.  Without these sinks working overtime atmospheric carbon concentrations would already be well over 500 parts per million (ppm).  In the case of the ocean acidification in particular this has not come without a cost.


Despite the fact that sinks are absorbing more CO2 the atmospheric concentration is growing at a faster rate than ever.  In the decade from 2000-2009 the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide grew at an average rate of 2.0 ppm/yr, higher than any previous decade measured.  To reduce this growth rate global carbon emissions need to decline.  To stop concentrations growing at all would require an immediate reduction in carbon emissions by 55-60%, followed by further reductions in time.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

This graph should make it clear why it is not enough to merely eliminate our current carbon emissions, but we must go further to reverse the effects of prior accumulated emissions.

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Philippines Makes 100% Renewable Energy In 10 Years Plan

Philippines Makes 100% Renewable Energy In 10 Years Plan | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

“The Philippines is already a leader in geothermal and hydropower,” said Ochs. “But it’s essential now to chart a future that is socially, economically and environmentally sustainable and addresses the key challenge of providing affordable and reliable energy access for all Filipinos. With our Sustainable Energy Roadmap approach, Worldwatch will help to expand access to energy, address social needs, and advance economic development while protecting local environments and a stable global climate.”


To develop a Sustainable Energy Roadmap, Worldwatch analyzes an area’s potential for energy efficiency gains and undertakes detailed GIS mapping of local renewable energy resources, including biomass, solar, and wind. The Institute also produces an infrastructure inventory that assesses solutions for grid renovation and energy storage. In addition to technical analysis, the Roadmaps explore the socioeconomic impacts of diverse energy pathways, including the potential for sustainable energy development to create jobs and reduce electricity and healthcare costs. Worldwatch’s Roadmaps can be applied anywhere—in industrialized and developing countries—and at multiple levels of political organization, from the municipal to the regional.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

Each country needs to make plans for how to achieve the 100% renewable energy goal.

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Swedish Foundation sees fees on raw materials can create circular economy | A Very Beautiful Place

Swedish Foundation sees fees on raw materials can create circular economy | A Very Beautiful Place | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

Just released, the latest version of the Swedish Sustainable Economy Foundation’s White paper presents in detail how nations can usher in the zero emission, no waste society using a special fee mechanism on raw materials.

 

 

 People get worried that we should reduce consumerism, as our way of life is driving resource use and emissions. Just reducing will collapse the economy. Instead, the Foundation proposes fees on introduction of raw materials into the economy.  These fees are raised until the consumption and emission of materials ceases. But the money is redirected into  the economy – paid out equally to all taxpayers. This ensures people have money to buy what they need.

 The circular economy can be ushered this way: substances that are not biological of origin ( iron, other metals,  mined substances etc) cost to enter the system, and the price is raised until they do not leave it. Biological nutrients circulate too, but enter and leave the economy without burdening recipient or reducing ecological maturity of the source. At the same time, money to enable these transactions circulates freely in the opposite direction.
Via Flora Moon
Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

This is a brilliantly simple way to account for the cost of consuming non-renewable resources, thus strongly encouraging their reduction, and increasing the value of recycling. And it does it in a fair way that rewards all people equally, especially those who choose to consume less of the non-renewable resources.

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Daniel LaLiberte's comment, June 23, 2013 11:34 AM
They also deal with emissions: "An emission fee is placed on introduction of a potentially polluting substance into the commercial system, preferably at import or extraction. The fee is raised until the substance is under control." Putting fees on emissions is necessary because cheaper sources of the same resource would otherwise tend to be exploited first. E.g. fossil fuels are easier to exploit than CO2 emissions. We could simply raise the fee on the resources until it is cheaper to recycle the emissions, but for some "waste", it may be hard to find any buyer at any price.
AP Macro's curator insight, September 6, 2013 12:21 PM

If Sweden uses more alternative resources that could boost their economy, that would be good for those who invested in buying the USD/SEK.

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TEDxRainier - Amory Lovins - Reinventing Fire

Amory Lovins shows how the U.S. (for starters) can run a 2.6x-bigger 2050 economy with no oil, coal, or nuclear energy, $5 trillion cheaper, with no Act of Congress, led by business for profit.

 

Oil is becoming uncompetive even at low prices before it becomes unavailable even at high prices.

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Going Carbon Neutral: What It Means and How To Do It | PlanetSave

Going Carbon Neutral: What It Means and How To Do It | PlanetSave | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

Most people do not realize it, but they can do something right now to improve the environment by going “Carbon Neutral.” Going carbon neutral means that you produce almost no carbon emissions through your day-to-day activities. You then completely clear your carbon debt by purchasing carbon offsets. This means you have no carbon footprint and you are not contributing to the problems of carbon pollution in our atmosphere.

 

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

Individual actions are great, but collective actions are much more important.  By purchasing carbon offsets you are effectively funding other people to contribute even more to solving the problem, so your positive footprint is balanced by other people's negative footprint.  

 

Producing more renewable energy than you need, more than 100%, means other people can use the extra.  It is much easier to do that sort of thing collectively.  Recycling 100% of our waste requires the whole production industry to be oriented around making that easier to do.

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The Vertical Farm

http://www.verticalfarm.com By the year 2050, nearly 80% of the earth's population will reside in urban centers. Applying the most conservative estimates to current demographic trends, the human population will increase by about 3 billion people during the interim. An estimated 109 hectares of new land (about 20% more land than is represented by the country of Brazil) will be needed to grow enough food to feed them, if traditional farming practices continue as they are practiced today. At present, throughout the world, over 80% of the land that is suitable for raising crops is in use (sources: FAO and NASA). Historically, some 15% of that has been laid waste by poor management practices. What can be done to avoid this impending disaster?

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

The additional 2-3 billion people (leveling off at about 9-10 billion) will mostly be in Africa, and they won't necessarily need vertical farms.  But the rest of us will because we need to return most of our farm land to the wild, and as he says, most of us will be living in cities much more effiently than in rural areas.

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The World We Want for Our Children

The Cradle to Cradle Certified Program guides designers and manufacturers in the making of safe and healthy things for our world, with the aim of transforming product manufacturing into a positive force for society, economies, and the planet.



"Reuse everything, and throw away nothing."


"...products that aren't just less bad, but are actually more good."

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Cradle To Cradle Co-founder Launches Design Collaborative | EarthTechling

Cradle To Cradle Co-founder Launches Design Collaborative | EarthTechling | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it
Teaching companies to view waste as a resource rather than a cost of doing business will be no easy task, but William McDonough is up to the task.

 

The closed loop of recycling can only exist if things are designed to be recycled. The new initiative, to be called “the Waste Management McDonough Sustainable Innovation Collaborative” will assist industries in thinking about recyclability before the product or packaging is created, instead of after.


Among the initiative’s chief goals will be to design product and packaging for recyclability as well as reduced impact on ecological and human health.


"Every single company and community has some interaction with or contribution to the waste stream that we generate, and therefore they all have a stake in seeking to transform that system and optimize resource use."

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Is a High Renewables Future Really Possible? (Part 1)

Is a High Renewables Future Really Possible? (Part 1) | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

In recent weeks and months, there’s been much to celebrate about renewable energy and the electricity system—wind and solar in particular are continually breaking records for installed capacity and actual generation. But amidst the celebratory fanfare there’s also been an undercurrent of skepticism—skepticism that a high renewables future could be here soon, or is even possible at all.


Renewables’ track record shows that they continue to outpace skeptics’ expectations. “People thought that maybe renewables would get to two percent. When they did that, people said maybe five percent. Then 10 percent,” says Hutch Hutchinson, managing director at RMI. “Renewables have been fighting and scratching the entire way. Now, there’s good analytical evidence that with some creativity and customary levels of reinvestment in our energy system, we can get to a high renewables future.”


Rocky Mountain Institute’s own 2011 analysis, Reinventing Fire, similarly highlighted how the U.S. could be powered by 80 percent renewables in the future, largely through wind and solar with smaller contributions from energy storage, hydro, biomass, and geothermal.


Renewable energy now enjoys the majority of power generation investment globally, and such investment is only expected to grow. Through 2020 to 2030, Bloomberg New Energy Finance estimates renewable energy investment will reach $400–$460 billion. Many others predict $500 billion by 2020, and some estimates suggest as high as $1 trillion annually.


“Renewable energy futures are no longer a matter of technology—we have all the technologies we need—and are no longer a matter of economics either,” says REN21’s Martinot. “We’re just not making the cost comparisons in the right way. It’s our way of thinking and our power industry structure that makes renewable energy seem more expensive, not the technology itself.” That power industry structure includes hefty and durable fossil fuel subsidies, which amount to $1.9 trillion per year or more, according to a report from the International Monetary Fund earlier this year. Those fossil fuel subsidies far outweighed the smaller and more transient subsidies offered to renewables, according to the International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook 2012.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

If we get to 80% renewable energy, why not push on to 100%?  What would slow us down?  We would need to store energy to use it when and where renewable sources are not available, but better storage is coming as well.  

 

Compare the current public *subsidies* of fossil fuels of almost $2 trillion per year with the much smaller investment in renewable energy, estimated to maybe grow to $1 trillion per year by 2020.  Clearly we should, at the very least, shift those subsidies to renewables, thus tripling the rate of investment.  

 

100% renewable energy is absolutely possible, and absolutely necessary.  We must shut down the entire fossil fuel industry as soon as possible, as fast as feasible.  

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World's Leading Scientists Issue Unprecedented Plan For Protecting Ocean and Marine Life

World's Leading Scientists Issue Unprecedented Plan For Protecting Ocean and Marine Life | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

For the first time ever, the world’s largest environmental organizations, working with scientists, the business community and international governments, met specifically to develop a comprehensive and achievable agenda to reverse the decline in health of the world’s oceans.


"The health of humankind is directly related to the health of the ocean – and the ocean and the marine life that calls it home is in real trouble," said Sylvia Earle, Executive Director of Conservation International’s Global Marine Program and DOE co-convener. "We couldn’t afford yet another meeting where we just sat around and created a wish list, so we formed Defying Ocean’s End to take unprecedented and bold steps forward."


"It’s stunning to consider that in the past few decades, we have done away with the vast majority of large fish in the ocean and significantly altered the way marine systems operate," said Intel founder Gordon Moore, co-convener of the DOE conference. "By using sound science and implementing an achievable action plan, we still have a small window of opportunity to reverse these trends."



Via pdjmoo
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Inevitable Shifts and Indispensable Technologies | Alternative Energy Stocks

"... finally, the world is waking up to the real need to get our economies on a footing that can allow it to persist indefinitely."

 

Bloomberg last week reported about Goldman-Sachs that, “[t]he investment bank is backing renewable energy that it expects will gain favor in a global shift it says is inevitable. That’s why short-term volatility will be trumped by long-term gains as emerging technologies first become commonplace and then become indispensable, according to Stuart Bernstein, the Goldman partner overseeing its renewables unit.” (Italics again mine.) ‘Inevitable shifts and indispensable technologies’ might as well have been Green Alpha’s motto these past five years, and it’s great to see the world’s leading bank, which for better and worse also influences the highest monetary and fiscal policymakers worldwide, thus publicly recognize reality.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

I look forward to the day when we have too much renewable energy, which is probably also inevitable given the financial industry's propensity to inflate bubbles until they pop.  We have to figure out how to institute long-term investment in preference to short-term profits, beyond the bubbles.

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Rare Species Perform Unique Functions In Ecosystems, Research Finds -- Upending Old Misconceptions | PlanetSave

Rare Species Perform Unique Functions In Ecosystems, Research Finds -- Upending Old Misconceptions | PlanetSave | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

Rare species play a much more important, and even unique, role in ecosystems than was previously thought, according to new research from the University of Montpellier 2. The research has found that many of the rarest species in the world, most of which are rapidly going extinct, play very important roles in many ecosystems and support unique ecological functions that aren’t provided by other species.

 

What the research has demonstrated, and what is so important, is that it’s “primarily the rare species, rather than the more common ones, that have distinct traits involved in unique ecological functions.” With the disappearance of these species, and the overall decline in biodiversity, these unique ecological features are themselves likely to disappear.

 

“These unique features are irreplaceable, as they could be important for the functioning of ecosystems if there is major environmental change,” explained Dr Mouillot.

 

“Rare species are not just an ecological insurance,” he said. “They perform additional ecological functions that could be important during rapid transitions experienced by ecosystems. The vulnerability of these functions, in particular biodiversity loss caused by climate change, highlights the underestimated role of rare species in the functioning and resilience of ecosystems.

 

[From the journal article itself at http://www.plosbiology.org/article/info:doi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pbio.1001573 ]

 

"Humans appear to be the cause of the impending sixth mass extinction of life on Earth (the fifth was most likely at the hands of an asteroid crashing to Earth 65 million years ago, causing the extinction of the dinosaurs and around 75% of other plant and animal species). As awareness of this impending biodiversity crisis has grown, a burgeoning literature examining the relationship between biodiversity and the functions of ecosystems (e.g., biomass production, nutrient cycling) has emerged, typically showing a positive relationship. The value of biodiversity, it is surmised, is that the functioning of entire ecosystems would collapse if the impending biodiversity crisis is not curtailed."

 

 

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